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I am attaching an article written (probably in the 50 or 60s in the Indianapolis newspaper) about the Governor Morton.
Carol S. Gromer of Indianapolis.


For many years, from the earliest settlers until after the Civil War, Indianapolis citizens hoped that some day their thriving village would be a river port; sincerely believed that White River was a navigable stream.

They learned the hard way. Several arduous and expensive attempts were made to bring steamboats and barges from the Wabash up White River. The nearest got within 32 miles and hung up on a sandbar where it was derelict for six months.

In 1865, the year the Civil War closed, a 100-foot twin-decked side-wheeler, eventually named the Governor Morton (after Indiana's wartime governor), was built in Indianapolis as a picnic and excursion steamer. It cost $11,000.

For 13 months it cruised up and down White River from its mooring spot just north of the covered National Road Bridge (at what is now Washington Avenue).

On its first voyage it was packed. It got as far upstream as Cold Springs (about opposite 18th Street). On the return cruise, according to Early Incidents in Indianapolis, a "fat Dutchman fell overboard." The skipper piped all hands and lowered a lifeboat, but the "fat Dutchman" had run hard aground on a sandbar. As the ship docked, returning from its maiden trip, a "lady" fell from the gangplank "up to her armpits." "A gay lothario dived over to save her--six months later they were married."

The "captain" was H.[enry] M.[Mansfield] Socwell, a former Ohio River boatman. He was able to work his craft on moonlight nights as far southwest as Waverly. Socwell was dubbed "the admiral," by his newspaper friends.

The craft's career was beset by many mishaps--stacks knocked down by overhead branches, getting hung up on snags and sandbars, and suffering engine trouble.

For 13 months the Governor Morton was the pride of the town, until, on the night of August 6, 1866, she sank at her moorings. Several days before she had strained her seams athwart a sandbar on her trip to Waverly.

Her engines went to operate a "mill of some sort," and Capt. Socwell became one of the city's best-known grocers.

And that ended navigation of White River with the exception of the short careers of the party boats, Helen Gould at Riverside Park, and the Sunbeam at Broad Ripple Park in the early 1920s. The Sumbeam burned at her mooring.

Logo 30


From site visitor, William W. Brewer, Jr.

My great-great-grandfather was Simeon Haigh Jr. Simeon Haigh Jr. died in Humansville, Polk County, Missouri on 19 May 1900. I quote from his obituary:

"....Mr. Haigh's ancestros [sic] have been engaged in the woolen mill business for several generations. His great grand father being the first successful carder of wool in England. He learned the same business in which he was more than ordinarily successful. He followed this business until 1857, when he entered into partnership with his brother J. P. Haigh to conduct a coal shipping and steam ship business on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Amongst the various boats was the celebrated "GREAT REPUBLIC", finest and largest passenger steamboat on either river up to that time. In 1861 he sold out his boating business and went back to milling."

I believe the brother mentioned was Joseph P. Haigh, who is listed in the Pittsburgh City Directory for both 1850 and 1860 as the owner and operator of a foundry in Pittsburgh.

I have a fragment of a letter written by their father, Simeon Haigh, from Pittsburgh in 1860. At the time he was staying at Joseph's home, and in the letter, he mentions "the boat" and quite possibly touches on what may have caused the breakup of the partnership between the brothers. Unfortunately, I do not know what newspaper the above obituary appeared in. I found the article in the family Bible after the death of an elderly aunt. I assume it was in a Humansville newspaper, but have not yet found the original. In any event, I thought you might be interested.

Bill Brewer

Further notes on the Haigh family:

Joseph P. Haigh is listed in Way's Packet Directory, 1848 - 1994
as a principal, with Andrew Hartupee, of Haigh, Hartupee and Company, of Pittsburgh, engine builders, the company that supplied the machinery for the packet BELLE QUIGLEY in 1852, and the engines for the packet KATE CASSEL in 1854.

Joseph P. Haigh is listed by Way's Packet Directory, 1848-1994 as owning 1/3 of the GREAT REPUBLIC in 1867, differing from the date in the obit. above by ten years as does the date above when he got out of the boating business by ten years. Way's shows him selling out of the GREAT REPUBLIC in 1871.

As newspapers are notorious for disseminating inaccurate information, I (Riverboat Dave) an inclined to go with Way's dates.

An Albert Haigh is listed by Way's Packet Directory, 1848-94 as the owner in 1889 of the LITTLE ACME, a 13.6 ton ferryboat at New Cumberland, W. Va. There is no cross refference to confirm his relationship with the Haighs above.


From site visitor Dean Thomson

Dear David,
Here is the information that I said I would send. I believe that I originally received this info about 20 years ago from the Inland River Museum in Sewickly, Pa.. I don't think it exist as such, anymore, but I could be wrong. They had a numerical sequence of many boats. Notice the Granite State referense to #382 is apparently a reference to another boat. Apparently some pictures do exist of the old steamboats. Those were also available at one time. Sincerly, Dean A. Thomson 2528 S. 53rd Lincoln, Ne. 68506 P.S. 1850 mortality schedual lists Jesse K (lienfelter-d.) as a steamboat captain, not pilot. This is a transcription of the information Dean Thomson sent me:

The GRANITE STATE which ran in the Cincinnati, Wyandotte trade was not the boat listed as #382, this was an older boat and mostly ran Pittsburgh - Cincinnati, Capt. Wash Kerr Master and T.T. Johnston, Clerk. Came out about 1871 and ran until the last GRANITE STATE was built in 1879. Amoung her many pilots were JimmyHenderson, Thomas Klinefelter and Eph Talbot. This boat one time had the distinction (?) of nearly being struck by a falling meteor while downbound near Cornicks Creek below Ripley, Ohio. Eph Talbot was on watch, in the middle of a black night, when the missile zipped past the pilothouse, and lit in the Ohio River ahead of the boat.

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